July 2006


So, today:

  1. Erin comes home from camp
  2. We finally got her camera back from the mysterious “exchange center” which took a freakishly long time to exchange an obviously defective digicam.
  3. The library emailed me to tell me my book is in.  This is one of the handiest things about the library system – you request a book from anywhere and they get it to the library nearest you.
  4. The mother-in-law went home.
  5. Evan mowed the lawn for me.


Some Old Guy

Originally uploaded by gregwest98.

Here’s me shooting a screw while building a gate. When I saw this, I honestly didn’t recognize as me. It’s that gray hair in the beard; that throws me off.

I work with one guy who runs a lot.  Another coworker cycles a lot.  Both have described “hitting the wall” and I never understood it.

Until now.

Sunday as we began to wind up Evan’s project, I began to get pretty tired.  I’m not used to working out in the sun for very long at a time.  But we had to get done since everybody was leaving – so I kept going.  Indeed, I don’t usually do much at scouting events; preferring to leave the work to the scouts but this was different – it involved power tools.

As we wound it up I got this feeling: my brain said “OK.  You’re done.  Go sit down.”  And that was it.  I had no further energy to even pick up an empty water bottle off the ground.  We needed to go inside the building to take some photos of the project from that perspective and I was able to struggle back there to do that but that was all.  We had the priviledge of going into the zoo and enjoying all there was but my body would not go anywhere but the front seat of my truck.  I had a sort of tunnel-vision.  And Melissa – who was recovering from surgery and not supposed to drive – had to drive home.  I didn’t even talk – I only drank water; and that was with great effort.
It was a very strange feeling.  But now I know.  I’ve joined that club which is normally only joined by serious athletes.   I really need to get more exercise; apparently walking the dog every night is not sufficient.

Well, he did it. Evan organized a fence-building and now the zoo has a new fence around their picture window.  Maybe some photos later.
The weather cooperated nicely. Last week it was over 100 degrees every day but Friday afternoon a front passed through without rain and so Saturday, the high was only 90. Sunday too.

Before

We started Saturday morning with the digging of post holes and the laying of some concrete pavestones (actually sold as “capstones”) on edge into a slit trench so as to keep the future tortoise resident from burrowing out. We had a lot of people show up and with all the digging, we needed people plus, it was the kind of work that the little kids could do. Scouts aren’t allowed to use powertools on projects like this so that accounts for the large number of gardening/landscaping projects that Eagle Scouts do. We got all that done by about 12:30 after having started at 9:00.

Sunday, we returned at 12:00 and started putting up the fence pickets. We used pre-fab panels and so it went quickly except for the gate which we had to build. But all this was done by 3:30. Both scoutmasters were extremely helpful in getting the work done but in letting Evan have his role as manager. That’s a hard line to walk. Plus we adults got to use powertools.

I’m usually the photographer but since I was wielding a circular saw and other tools, Mel grabbed the camera and took over that role. Since she’s recovering from surgery, that was about all she could do. She did well but as a result, there are photos of me where there usually are none. When I saw the first photo of me, I didn’t even recognize it as me – I thought “who’s that guy?”

All went well I think. The zoo lady (whose title I always forget – something like volunteer coordinator) brought in a group of new volunteers who were there for orientation. She included Evan’s project in their tour and introduced him around. This person was never at her desk – she only had her radio for communication so we could never get hold of her – as a result, we were pretty much on our own which I think is just as well. But I would have liked to have been there when she saw the finished product for the first time.

The trip to DC was the usual barrel of monkeys.  It was hot here – over 100 degrees – so I was a bit concerned about the possibility of strange air-travel problems.  For example, having to take off with less weight due to decreased air density.  No problems though but the air was thick with haze from here to Chicago and on into Washington.  Most of the time it looked like we were flying through a single large cloud.  I could see nothing at all so I closed the window and read.  Every passenger did the same thing so it was strangely dark inside – almost like a nighttime trip.

Washington itself was experiencing a break from the heat due to the tropical storm off the coast; the overcast from the fringes of that storm made it stay in the low 90s which was a treat for me since I was forced to wear a suit.

It was quick – out one afternoon, do my thing the next morning, and back that afternoon.  Tiring though.  I got luck and snagged first class on the way back so I actually got something decent to eat.   I got to finish The Scarlet Pimpernel and listen to a good many tunes on the iPod as well as this week’s “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!” podcast.

Well, it’s here.  The real summer.  It’s been over 100 for two days with every forecast calling for the same for at least a week.  At about 8:30 Saturday morning, the sound of lawn moweres filled the air; all of us trying to get the job done before it got too hot for common sense.

I committed the embarrassing faux pas of taking my mower partially apart to diagnose a dying engine problem only to realize that it was simply out of gas.  Shows you what a crappy mower I have that it screws up more than it runs out of gas.

I have a big pile of brush in the back yard from the tree project but it got too hot to deal with that.  Maybe later.

For her part, Mel stayed inside.  She has a huge bandage over her surgical area which makes her pretty hot even in the air conditioning so she stayed inside – on the sofa in front of the TV specifically.

Yesterday, Erin left for girl scout camp for two weeks.  She chose the theme camp of “waterlogged” in which they get in the water for swimming, boating, etc all day every day for the whole two weeks.  That camp always starts when the summer gets really hot and so it was a sweaty job manhandling her gear from the truck to the cabin.  After returning from the shop, my truck did an admirable job keeping us cool without overheating in the blazing heat.  Thank goodness.

They didn’t actually charge me for that diagnostic and radiator top-off but I did pay them $250 to service the rear brakes so I guess it was even.

Erin found a friend from last year’s camp and so was comfortable with me leaving.  This years camp had made some changes in the crowd handling and so there wasn’t much standing in line – just a quick drop off and I was away.  I was sad actually, one doesn’t simply drop off a child for two weeks without some reservations no matter how reliable the camp and its staff are.  They sent us a detailed note about all the safety stuff they do including removing any ticks and saving them for later analysis for up to one year in case of some later-diagnosed disease.  But I still felt reticent to leave her there.  I guess it’s a parent thing.

Evan’s Eagle scout project is this coming Saturday and Sunday which has me pretty tensed up.  It should be plenty hot so we’ll have to worry about heatstroke as well as simply getting the job done.

Then there’s my upcoming trip to Washington.  I may have many talents but a latent one that I discovered later in my career is the knack for giving a good presentation so I shouldn’t worry about this but I can’t really help it.  Everything is important when you’re called to Washington so I’d better give it my full attention.

So Mel’s fourth (and last) surgery was yesterday.  Yet another several-hour trip to the surgical waiting room.  The last in the series of reconstructive operations – thank goodness.  There will be a couple more procedures but I think they’ll be in the doctor’s office.  This actually lasted longer than the other operations and so she was under anesthetic longer and so took longer to come out of it.

She was a bit out of it since they had to give her some potent anti-nausea drug which made her sleepy but today she was up and about.

I’m glad that’s over.

Everything happens at once.  I can never seem to budget my disasters so that I can adequately deal with them.  Mel’s surgery has been on the calendar for a long time and of course took precedence but at the same time my truck decided to start overheating (during a particularly hot spell) thus requiring a hospitalization of its own, and TheMan informs me that I really need to go give a presentation in Washington next week and could I have the pitch ready today for review.  I finished it Wednesday but they called me about it today and I had to do a bit of work from home.

I think I’m done now.

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